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City celebrates small business week and 50 years of BIAs

Hamilton’s first Business Improvement Area was established in 1976

HAMILTON, ON – This week, the City of Hamilton is marking small business week by celebrating 50 years of contributions from Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) and the resilience of the small businesses they serve. This annual event organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), celebrates the contributions of small business to the overall economy. The theme for this year’s event is ‘forging the way forward’. The coronavirus pandemic has caused one of the most important economic crises in history. In this unprecedented context, Canadian entrepreneurs have once again shown their courage and ability to adapt.

BIAs play a key role in attracting business to their local communities while providing an important bridge between municipal and provincial government. For decades, BIAs have been pivotal to main street and community revitalization through the improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally-owned land, buildings and structures. Through initiatives such as signature events, revitalization partnerships and public art installations, BIAs create legacy pieces and community development initiatives that have ripple effects throughout their communities. In the last 50 years since the first BIA was created in Toronto, hundreds of BIAs and their equivalents have been established across the globe.

The continued impact local BIAs have on the Hamilton economy is significant. Today there are more than 300 BIAs across Ontario, including 13 within the City of Hamilton:

  • Ancaster Village
  • Barton Village
  • Concession Street
  • Downtown Dundas
  • Downtown Hamilton
  • International Village
  • King West
  • Locke Street
  • Main West Esplanade
  • Ottawa Street
  • Stoney Creek
  • Waterdown
  • Westdale Village

The City of Hamilton would like to thank the BIAs for their outstanding contribution to our local economy. By providing continuous support for their business districts and helping foster the entrepreneurial spirit across the city, they are a key part of Hamilton’s transformation story. The City looks forward to its continued partnership, working together to develop Hamilton’s business communities for another 50 years and beyond.

“I am proud to be the chair of the BIA Advisory Committee for Hamilton especially in this hallmark 50th year! BIA’s are the cornerstone of our community, reaching into the local needs of our neighborhoods. Hamilton’s first BIA started in the downtown International Village in 1976 and from there grew to 13 BIAs. In 1993, the Concession Street BIA in my Ward 7 was started and is thriving. The acronym itself - Business Improvement Advisory - reflects the work that is done in our community. Small Businesses are the fabric of our great city! It’s important to support our local small businesses and shop locally at every opportunity. Let’s celebrate the work of BIAs and continue to grow our economy by supporting our local small businesses!” - Esther Pauls, Ward 7 Councillor and Chair, BIA Advisory Committee

“Since the creation of our first BIA in 1976, and especially throughout this challenging year, Hamilton continues to be very proud of our partnership with the BIAs. As we turn our efforts towards recovery, we know we can count on the leadership and entrepreneurial spirit of all of our BIAs as we continue to grow Hamilton’s economy, together.”- Norm Schleehahn, Director, Economic Development Division

Quick facts

  • Number of Commercial Businesses in the 13 BIAs: 1,887
  • Total value of the commercial properties within the BIAs: $722 million
  • Total Commercial Square Footage represents: just over 4 million
  • Total Number of Jobs: Over 25,000
  • Collective years of BIAs in Hamilton: 335 years
  • For more information on small business in Hamilton, please visit: The Hamilton Business Centre (formerly Small Business Enterprise Centre). Part of the Economic Development Division, they provide information and tools that entrepreneurs need to grow their businesses